With water temperatures exceeding 18 degrees in the summer, visitors from all over Europe flock to the Costa del Sol. Beyond the main strips, you’ll find some fascinating cultural and historic attractions showcasing the rich diversity of Andalusia.
With so many cities, towns and villages, deciding where to stay in Costa del Sol can be difficult. Each area is completely unique, offering something a little different to travelers.
That’s where we come in! We’ve combined our own experience with hints and tips from locals and travel experts to bring you the three best places to stay in Costa del Sol. Whether you’re planning a family escape, a seaside getaway or budget-break, we’ve got you covered.
Best Apartment in Costa del Sol: Fendi Penthouse
The Airbnb Luxe range offers only the best hand-picked accommodations. This particular apartment offers airport transfers, spa services and regular housekeeping. It sleeps up to four guests and comes with stunning views of the sea.
Best Hostel in Costa del Sol: Malaga Beach and Center Backpackers
Costa del Sol is one of the most popular destinations in Europe, so accommodation can get a little pricier. Thankfully, there are some excellent hostels for backpackers looking to get some sun on a budget. This Málaga hostel is a short walk away from the city center, so you can save money on public transport.
Best Hotel in Costa del Sol: Vincci Selección Aleysa
If you’re looking to splurge on a luxury getaway, look no further than this five star hotel in Torremolinos. Each room comes with stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea, and private sun loungers where you can bask without the crowds. It’s situated right on the beach, and close to the best things to do in town.
As the largest city on the Costa del Sol, Málaga has seen some major renovations over the past few years. Many of the beaches around the city have been significantly developed, with hotels and holiday apartments overlooking the Mediterranean.
There are plenty of smaller cities and towns dotted along the Costa del Sol that are worth visiting if you want to get away from the busier urban centres. Estepona strikes a good balance between having plenty of tourist infrastructure while still retaining its authentic charm.
Torremolinos is only a few minutes by car from Málaga but enjoys a completely different vibe. Once a small fishing village, it has seen a much bigger impact as a result of increased tourism.
Costa del Sol’s Top 3 Places to Stay in
Hugging the Andalusian coast, the Costa del Sol is among the most visited destinations in Europe. There are a few misconceptions about the area that lead people to assume it’s full of just tourists – but it’s actually a surprisingly diverse destination. If you scratch below the surface, you really can find some hidden gems.
Many of these hidden gems can be found in Málaga! As the largest city in the region, it’s a major gateway to Spain’s sunniest coast. It’s full of history and culture and provides regular connections to other destinations along the coast, making it the best pick for first timers.
Estepona is one of the best preserved villages on the Costa del Sol. There’s a fair bit of tourism here, however this hasn’t had the same impact on local culture as in other areas. As a result, it’s where you’ll find the most affordable accommodation and dining options.
Just south of Málaga is Torremolinos. With pedestrianised shopping streets and vast beaches, this is a popular destination among families. Despite getting quite busy, it’s full of hotels and activities to keep you entertained and away from larger crowds.
Still undecided? It isn’t an easy choice to make! We’ve got some more info about each destination below to give you a better idea of what’s on offer. Accommodation and activity picks are also included, so you can kickstart your itinerary planning.
As the largest city on the Costa del Sol, Málaga has seen some major renovations over the past few years. Many of the beaches around the city have been significantly developed, with hotels and holiday apartments overlooking the Mediterranean. For first time visitors, Málaga is the easiest destination to access and has the best connections across the region.
Despite these huge developments, central Málaga has retained an authentic vibe. The historic architecture is still intact, with many of Málaga’s attractions providing a window to the city’s past. It’s still very much a working city, so you’ll find a good mix of travelers and locals here.
This sunny Airbnb in Málaga comes with gorgeous views overlooking the town. On the private terrace, you’ll find sun-loungers and a rustic barbecue area. It’s a short walk from the centre of Málaga, with the Guadalmina River right on your doorstep. .
Best Hostel in Málaga: Malaga Beach and Center Backpackers
Despite being a ten minute walk from the town center, this is one of the most peaceful hostels in Málaga. Whilst definitely not a party hostel, they still host regular social events where you can meet up with other backpackers. It’s right next to the beach, so you get to enjoy sea views from the terrace.
Best Hotel in Málaga: Molina Lario
This gorgeous four star hotel in the city centre comes with a rooftop pool and unbeatable views towards the sea. Rooms are modern and spacious, letting in plenty of natural light. The Roman Amphitheatre is steps away, and Malagueta Beach is within short walking distance. It’s a bit of a splurge, but worth every penny for the ultimate accommodation in Málaga.
Things to See and Do in Málaga:
- Sample the culinary highlights of the Costa del Sol in this mouthwatering tapas and wine tour through the centre of Málaga.
- Alcazaba is the Moorish castle in the heart of the city that overlooks the historic centre and winding cobbled streets.
- See an alternative side of the city in this unique street art and graffiti tour through some of Málaga’s hippest neighborhoods.
- Rock climbing is a really popular activity in the area – take a trip up to El Chorro gorge where you can walk along the King’s Walkway for a hit of adrenaline.
2. Estepona – Where to Stay in Costa del Sol on a Budget
Estepona strikes a good balance between tourist infrastructure and authentic charm. While nowhere on the Costa del Sol is truly off the beaten path, Estepona has its own unique vibe that will really enhance your stay.
Since it’s a little bit out of the way for tourists, Estepona is quite an affordable destination for those traveling Spain on a budget. Accommodation is pretty average, but you can find some good deals in the off-season.
This cute pied-à-terre is a great example of the history that oozes out of Estepona. Located in the Old Town, the architecture harks back to a bygone era in Estepona. The interior pays tribute to this, with traditional furnishings and classic design. The most popular museums and plazas are right on the doorstep, and there’s a private terrace on the roof with views of the church.
Best Penthouse in Estepona: Fendi Penthouse
It’s not often we feature an Airbnb Luxe property in our top budget neighbourhood, but we really couldn’t keep this property off our guide to the best places to stay in the Costa del Sol. You’ll definitely need to splurge a little, but thankfully it’s among the more affordable of Luxe properties. This gorgeous penthouse comes with the latest design and a peaceful swimming pool.
Best Budget Hotel in Estepona: Mare Estepona Hotel
The three star Mare Estepona Hotel is the perfect choice for anyone traveling on a budget. Rooms are somewhat basic, but spacious and comfortable. Guests are also provided with a complimentary breakfast every morning!
Things to See and Do in Estepona:
- Take a walk along the Promenade for gorgeous Mediterreanean views, especially at dawn or sunset.
- The Beacon Towers are an important historic landmark. They were built by the Moors and early Castillians, and can all be hiked in a single day.
- Horse riding is really popular in the area. Escuela de Arte Ecuestre Costa del Sol is considered the most renowned school in the region and offers private lessons.
- Estepona is a major culinary centre in the Costa del Sol – we can’t really pick out a favorite, but there are plenty to explore in the main square.
3. Torremolinos – Best Area in Costa del Sol for Families
Torremolinos is only a few minutes by car from Málaga, but enjoys a completely different vibe. Once a small fishing village, it has seen a much bigger impact as a result of increased tourism. Whilst this can be off-putting to certain kinds of travelers, families really benefit from the bountiful facilities and activities on offer.
The main entertainment strip is pedestrian only, and many of the beaches offer water based activities that can be enjoyed by young children. It’s a safe area of Spain, so you can rest easy and relax on your holiday.
This charming loft sleeps up to six guests in two bedrooms, making it ideal for groups and families. The apartment enjoys sea views and two sunny terraces, as well as cooking and laundry facilities.
Best Apartment in Torremolinos: Gorgeous Penthouse
Airbnb Plus properties are hand picked for their gorgeous interiors and exceptional guest service. This laid-back apartment is kept peaceful with Scandinavian design and plenty of plants. The beautiful balcony comes with sea views and a small breakfast area – perfect for a calm start to the day.
Best Hotel in Torremolinos: Vincci Selección Aleysa
Right on the waterfront, it doesn’t get much better than this stunning five star hotel. They offer a variety of rooms that can cater to families, and there’s an airport shuttle if you don’t fancy hiring a car. There are activities on offer throughout the day and a delectable breakfast served each morning.
Things to See and Do in Torremolinos:
- Andalucia has a rich culinary history. Learn about some of the most iconic dishes from the region and how to make them in this experience.
- There are a number of theme parks and water parks in the area – we recommend Aqualand for families with younger kids.
- If you’re here to relax and soak up the sun, why not start the day off right with this easy-going yoga experience right on the beach.
- La Carihuela is the site of the original fishing village – it has since been pedestrianised and is home to some fantastic restaurants.
Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Costa del Sol
With stunning beaches, vibrant entertainment districts and seemingly endless sunshine, it’s no wonder the Costa del Sol is such a popular place to stay in Spain.
If you’re still unsure, you can’t go wrong with Málaga! It might seem like the obvious choice, but it offers a bit of everything and is ideal for travelers getting to know the region. It’s also well-connected to the other areas.
That being said, the best place for you really depends on what you want to get out of your trip. All that’s left to do now is choose, and get packing!
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.
“Find out how YOU can support the site. We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web, for free! It’s all about helping out our tribe of awesome backpacker readers [that’s you!]. Please visit the link to find out how you can help keep the site going 🙂
For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. Thanks for your support.